Side Hustle Review: Earn $100s with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk

Millions of people have lost their jobs and are surviving on a lower income. Are you one of them and looking to earn some money to tide you over until you can go back to work? Or do you simply have more free time now you can work from home? Let’s evaluate one potential side hustle you could start to earn some extra income.

On Side Hustle Nation, Mike Naab claims to have made $50k in 6 years on Amazon’s online work platform, Mechanical Turk. Not bad for a part-time, work-from-home side hustle. But is it plausible that you can do the same? 

This is what we’ll be exploring today. To earn 50k in 6 years, you’d have to earn at least $160 per week. Earnings on the platform can be low, so although it might be possible, it involves a lot of hard work. Let’s look at how Mturk works and what its potential is.

pexels-photo-4134791
Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

What is Amazon Mechanical Turk?

Mturk is an online platform that connects workers – people looking to earn money – with requesters, who need a task completed quickly and cheaply. Once you sign up as a worker, you can scan the list of HITs, Human Intelligence Tasks, that have been uploaded to the site. Requesters can specify what kind of person should work on their task, for example from a certain country or with certain skills, so not all tasks will be available to you. However, there are usually hundreds of possibilities, so it is likely you’ll find something suitable. 

What are workers asked to do? 

There’s a wide range of tasks available and you can choose the ones you like best. Some that I’ve completed include: 

  • Online surveys
  • Finding contact information from tutoring websites
  • Classifying websites into categories
  • Writing down slogans found on coffee mugs 
  • Scanning statements for offensive content 

I have also seen tasks asking you to upload photographs of your neighbourhood or shoot quick videos. 

How much do you get paid?

According to a detailed 2017 research paper, the average pay is only $2 per hour. This is what I experienced at the beginning of my work with Mturk, but I soon found tasks that pay multiples of that. 

Mturk lists the HITs from largest to smallest. For example, if a requester needs to find out the contact details of 3000 websites, their HIT will be towards the top of the list because each website is counted as one task. These assignments often pay very little, between $0.01 and $0.10. Some of the better paid HITs are buried further down since they are smaller in number. 

Last month, I found a task that pays $0.33 to identify sentences with explicit content. When I timed this task, I was able to complete 22 HITs in 40 minutes, earning me $7.26. Converted to an hourly wage, this is $10.89. 

This makes the $50k goal seem a lot more plausible: you’d have to work 15 hours per week, or 3 hours per working day, to achieve the weekly target earnings. It’s a lot, but if you’re stuck at home and out of work, it might be worth it. 

How do you get paid? 

If you’re in the USA or India, you can get your money deposited into a Paypal account. In any other country, you will get Amazon.com vouchers. 

This is a bit limiting, since Amazon.com is not the same as Amazon.co.uk, so most items won’t ship to England. However, if you are like me and enjoy reading, you can buy ebooks and download them on your kindle. 

If I end up working on Mturk more frequently, I will also look into options such as buying goods to resell in my little ebay shop or converting the vouchers into cash. Unfortunately, there doesn’t currently seem to be an easy way to do the latter, so it would require additional research. 

Keep in mind that your earnings are taxable. In the UK, we have a tax-free ‘side hustle allowance’ of £1000 per year, so I am going to make sure I stay below that limit. 

Awesome recent ebook I purchased for $0.99 with my Mturk earnings! (Affiliate link)

How can you get better tasks?

Unfortunately, many tasks are location specific and often, requesters only want people in the USA to complete their HITs. When I worked on Mturk in Switzerland, I barely found any worthwhile tasks, but it is better in England. Many requesters want their workers to be native or proficient English speakers. 

However, you can improve the amount of HITs available to you over time. Here are some tips: 

  • Complete as many and varied tasks as possible. Some requesters ask for experienced workers with many completed tasks. 
  • Complete Mturk’s tests. For example, there’s a language test you can do to qualify for certain tasks. If there’s a HIT you’d like to do but you’re not currently qualified, check the requirements and see whether there’s a test you could do to improve your worker status. 
  • Do your best at every task. Many requesters require a certain percentage of approved tasks. For example, they might not accept workers who failed at more than 10% of their HITs.

What’s your overall verdict?

I would agree with Side Hustle Nation’s 3-star rating of Amazon Mechanical Turk. The platform can be a decent way to earn money, especially if you’re in the USA or India and can receive a paypal transfer. If you want to earn money from home with little hassle, Mturk works. However, you are trading your time for a modest reward, so depending on your situation, there could be much more profitable options out there. 

Have you ever tried to earn money from home? Is there a platform that worked well? Let me know what other side hustles I could review. 

 

You might also like: 

The Body Project: Quizzical Quadriceps

Mrs S eyed herself from top to bottom in the mirror, blonde head cocked to the side. Her gaze slid past her slender neck, long arms and tiny waist, and landed on her legs. 

“Something looks wrong.” She paused, contorting her delicate face into a grimace. “Ugh, my legs.”

I took a deep breath and smiled at her. It’s hard to respond to clients when they complain about their appearance. “What do you mean?” I asked. 

“My thighs look so tiny. I want BIG legs!”  

I raised my eyebrows. That was a new one.   

She gestured towards me, her hands a blur of red nail varnish. “Do you have any exercises to make my leg muscles bigger?” 

“Sure,” I replied, back in my element. “You can sit down. Let’s do a quadriceps exercise.”  

New to The Body Project? Read all about it here

The Quadriceps Muscle Group

The quadriceps is actually a group of four muscles in the front of your thigh. The rectus femoris on top is the longest, spanning from your hip to your knee cap, and the three vasti below originate on your femur (thigh bone) and insert on your knee cap. All of them work to straighten your knee, but only the rectus femoris helps to lift your leg up to the front. 

8 Quadriceps

Since this muscle group’s two actions are so vital, it pays to keep the quadriceps strong and long, especially as we age. It’s the first muscle to lose mass, and if it gets too tight it can pull on your knee. Let’s look at some exercises to strengthen and lengthen your quadriceps. You can also go back to the iliopsoas article and do the stretches mentioned there. 

Seated Leg Raises

Start by sitting back in a comfortable position, trying to keep your spine neutral. Stretch your legs out to the front and flex your feet. Depending on the shape of your legs, your heels might come off the ground. If so, try to keep them off the entire time. Exhale, raise your right leg up, inhale lower it back down. Repeat 10-15x and then switch legs. Try to keep your legs fully engaged and extended throughout the exercise. 

8 Leg raises

Wall Bend and Stretch

Stand up against a wall with your legs parallel, on a diagonal in front of you. Create a neutral spine against the wall, with your lower back slightly curved. Bend your knees until it looks like you are sitting in a chair. Stay for five seconds, then stretch back out with control. You can vary the time spent ‘sitting’ to make it harder or easier. Repeat 6-10 times. 

8 Bend and Stretch

Quad Stretch

This is a great exercise because it also challenges your balance. Grab your foot and lift it behind you, aiming to touch your glute with your heel. If you can, try not to hold on – you could even close your eyes for an extra challenge! 

8 Quad Stretch

Have you ever had trouble with your quadriceps? If so, what did you do to feel better?

Also a quick reminder that selected The Body Project posts are now downloadable as free PDF’s on my Resources page.

SOURCES AND DISCLAIMER

Most of the information in this post comes from my years as a Pilates instructor. However, if you’re interested in reading more, here are some great resources:

The Muscle Book. Paul Blakey, 1992.

Trail Guide to the Body A Hands-on Guide to Locating Muscles, Bones and More. Andrew Biel, Robin Dorn, 2014.

PhysioPedia. <https://www.physio-pedia.com/> Accessed 18.5.2020. 

As always, participation in these workouts is at your own risk. A Chat with Kat is not responsible for bodily injuries incurred. If in doubt, please speak to your healthcare provider and/ or contact an exercise professional before proceeding.

The Long Road to Financial Independence: Linda’s Journey

Today, let’s welcome guest blogger Linda Richardson as she shares her money journey with us. And what a story it is! Financial infidelity, badass frugal habits and lots of hustling – Linda’s had a bumpy ride so far, but chases her goals and dreams with courage and determination. 

Linda is 21 years old and lives in the US, so she will be able to offer a different perspective on personal finance. In her own words, she’s a financial content writer based in New Jersey and a perennial student with an ongoing interest in learning new things. She uses her curiosity, connected with knowledge as a financial writer, to write about valuable lessons for small businesses. You can find her on Twitter @LindaRossie9 and Facebook @LindaRich008. She is currently a financial writer for Credit Card Consolidation Debt

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

– Chinese proverb

Linda1

Hi guys!

This is Linda, a student with a vivid interest in learning new things, an inquisitive mind to explore uncharted waters, and a heart full of love for the anchor of my life. In the brief span of 21 years, life has taught me 2 things:

(i) Financial independence is important, especially for women.

(ii) Wealth accumulated by sheer hard work stays. Everything else vanishes.

I learned these lessons in my childhood from my dad. He used to work as a stockbroker. I didn’t know how much money he made back then. I was too small to understand those things, but I understood one fact very well: He loved money more than anything else. He didn’t spend a penny on my mom. He told her upfront to cover her expenses and he married her only because she was a working lady. So, dad knew that he wouldn’t have to cover her expenses. He paid my tuition fees, but that was all. This was his only contribution to his family.

Mom spent her entire paycheck covering family expenses. Be it a bulb or a bread, mom bought it. When dad went to a shopping mall, he never carried his wallet or a credit card becaues he didn’t want to give mom a chance to ask for a penny. If we went to a restaurant, then mom would pay the bill. 

One day, mom’s cell phone was not working. Dad immediately offered his cellphone to her.

Wait! Don’t jump to conclusions. He didn’t offer his cell phone out of love. He offered to sell it to mom. He told her: “Pay me and this cell phone is yours.” That’s when I lost all respect for dad and realized why it’s important for women to be self-dependent. I can still visualize mom’s shocked face that day. 

Our life was a struggle. Mom hardly had any money in her bank account after covering all the expenses, while dad saved his entire paycheck. He didn’t care for me. He only cared for mom since she ran the family perfectly. He needed her for his selfish ends.

Our life was hell but mom didn’t leave him for one reason: she didn’t have enough money to buy a new apartment. And then, the recession in 2008 brought a hurricane into our already turbulent life.

Dad was a stockbroker, but he didn’t earn his money honestly. He cheated his clients to make money, buying and selling stocks without their consent. Whenever they called him up, he cooked up some convincing stories and kept them silent. 

This went on for several years. People think that children don’t observe anything, but that is wrong. I overheard everything through his phone calls.

The stock market crashed and dad’s clients panicked. Many of them started checking their investment portfolios and observed a series of unauthorized transactions. They knew that something was wrong, but they didn’t anticipate this kind of a mess. One of the clients got so furious that he filed a lawsuit against dad.

Dad asked mom to give him $30,000. He needed that money to pay his client and get an out of court settlement. Mom was completely taken aback, she didn’t even have $3000 in her bank account. Dad slapped her and said: ‘Pay $30,000 to me or leave this house.’ And then he stormed out. 

I knew Dad had money, but he wouldn’t spend it. He wanted to sort out his mess with mom’s money. At that point, I’d had enough. I was not going to live in that house any longer. With a father who didn’t understand anything except money, our life was at stake. 

I called my grandma and told her everything mom had hidden from her over the years. Grandma never approved of dad, but she didn’t say anything for mom’s happiness. She sent us a cab and asked us to leave that house. Mom was still hesitant, but she finally went to grandma’s apartment.

Dad called every day and asked us to come back. But we didn’t return. Grandma told mom that we could live in her apartment as long as we wanted. Our problem was solved temporarily, but we couldn’t stay there forever. 

Grandma lived in a small one-bedroom apartment, so we faced a space crunch. It took mom almost a year to find a better job, and another three years to save money to buy an apartment. During that time, we saved painstakingly: I had to switch to another school since mom couldn’t pay the high fees, we lived on basic groceries and never had a vacation. Grandma didn’t have money either, but her love and support helped us to survive.

After four years, we finally sold grandma’s old apartment and moved into a bigger one. But our happiness was short-lived: Grandma suffered a heart attack seven months after. She had health insurance, but that didn’t cover everything, so after six months, the house went to collections.

Debt collectors called mom every day. She asked her faraway friends what to do, but none of them were wealthy. We couldn’t tell grandma everything since she was in recovery mode. We couldn’t afford to lose her.

One morning, mom was speaking to her boss about the frequent sick days she was taking to take care of grandma. Her boss threatened to fire her if it went on. Mom panicked and told him everything. Fortunately, her boss understood and asked her to enroll in a debt consolidation program. 

“A debt consolidation program can help you pay off your medical debt through affordable monthly payments. Your mortgage is too new, so I don’t think a debt consolidation loan is a good option. And as far as your mom is concerned, you can ask your daughter to look after her temporarily.”

Mom took his advice and asked me to take care of grandma. I knew there was no other option and if I refused, mom might lose the job, and it would be more difficult to solve our financial problems. I told her it wouldn’t be an issue. It took her another three years to pay off the medical debt, and we carried on with our frugal life. 

Like the rest of the family, I was on a strict budget: I cooked meals at home, bought dresses from thrift stores, didn’t go to summer camps and tried to avoid costly birthday parties. On Sundays, I used to gather all the coupons so that mom could grab the best deals on groceries. I did everything to support mom. After I finished school, I started freelancing to make extra money. I’m in the last year of college and I’m working hard to pass with flying colors. I need this business degree. I want to be a successful entrepreneur in the future.

The money that I’m making through freelancing is enough to cover my expenses. But the mortgage is still there. Our life won’t be debt-free until it’s gone. I will take a job after graduation to gain experience and earn dollars. My goal is to help mom to pay off her mortgage as fast as she can by pursuing my dream of becoming an entrepreneur.

Mom had her share of adventures. My adventure has just begun. Wish me luck so that I can complete my adventurous trip to financial independence just like Kat.

Linda3

Wow, what a story. I love how Linda and her mother used frugality to build a new life for themselves. With her strong work ethic and frugal habits, I’m convinced that she will do well in the working world and succeed in building up wealth for herself and her family. 

If you know anyone struggling with similar problems, share this post with them so they can see how she navigated her struggles. Check out my own money journey so far and stay tuned for more Stories of FI over the next few weeks.

The Body Project: Impeccable Iliopsoas

“I had the virus.” 

The dreaded words echoed around my room as I stared at the client on my computer screen. 

“I’m okay, but my muscles hurt and they’re so stiff,” she continued. 

I started her off with the psoas stretch, one of my favourites and gasped at the tightness in the front of her leg. Lying on her back, she could barely stretch her legs straight out. We both agreed: this will take a lot of work and a lot of stretching. 

Whether you’ve had Coronavirus or not, the iliopsoas at the front of your thigh can get tight, especially if you sit a lot or do strenuous exercise without stretching. Let’s have a look at what these muscles do and how to take care of them. 

The Iliopsoas Group

The iliopsoas is actually made up of two muscles: the broad iliacus and the long psoas major. While the psoas originates on the spine, the iliacus starts at the pelvis. They join together and insert at the femur, the thigh bone. 

The iliopsoas group is the primary hip flexor: you use it when you lift your leg to the front, for example during walking or running. It also helps with upright posture. Because it’s such a crucial and frequently used muscle, it can get very tight and sore if you work at a desk job or do a lot of exercise without stretching. Let’s look at one strengthening exercise and some stretches you can do if the front of your hip feels stiff. It’s important to address this early because iliacus tightness, especially if it’s more pronounced on one side than the other, can cause a range of problems like hip, knee and lower back pain. 

New to The Body Project? Read all about it here

Leg Raise Front

7 Image 1

Lie on your back in neutral with your legs stretched out and your toes flexed towards the ceiling. Engage your navel towards your spine to keep the neutral posture. Exhale, lift your right leg straight up towards the ceiling. Inhale, stay and hold, exhale to bring it back with control. Repeat 10-15 times, then switch legs. To progress it, you can use a light exercise band tied loosely around both legs. 

Psoas Stretch 

7 Image 2

Lie on a table or bed with your legs hanging off the edge. Pull your right leg in towards your spine as much as you can while your left leg dangles down. You should feel the stretch in the front of your left thigh. You can also use a foam roller or similar to complete this exercise (as shown in the diagram). This has the added benefit of raising your hips above your head, which improves your circulation and stimulates your nervous system. Hold the position for 30 seconds on each leg. 

Lunge Stretch

7 Image 3

Start in a lunge position with your back knee bent. Make sure your front heel is down and the knee is bent at an angle of around 90 degrees. Imagine your hips sinking down towards the floor. If you can, lift your back knee up off the floor to deepen the stretch halfway through. Hold on each side for 30 seconds. 

 

Have you ever had iliopsoas trouble? What did you do to relieve it?

Stay tuned for next week’s Body Project episode on your leg muscles!

Also, just a quick reminder that selected The Body Project posts are now downloadable as free PDF’s on my Resources page.

SOURCES AND DISCLAIMER

Most of the information in this post comes from my years as a Pilates instructor. However, if you’re interested in reading more, here are some great resources:

The Muscle Book. Paul Blakey, 1992.

Trail Guide to the Body A Hands-on Guide to Locating Muscles, Bones and More. Andrew Biel, Robin Dorn, 2014.

PhysioPedia. <https://www.physio-pedia.com/> Accessed 18.5.2020. 

As always, participation in these workouts is at your own risk. A Chat with Kat is not responsible for bodily injuries incurred. If in doubt, please speak to your healthcare provider and/ or contact an exercise professional before proceeding.

On Signing the Pledge to End World Hunger

It’s a beautiful warm morning and you’re walking to work. You have an important meeting, so you wear your best shoes and your smartest light brown trousers. You rehearse your pitch, not paying much attention to where you’re going. As you pass a local pond, you see something moving out of the corner of your eye. It’s a little girl and she’s face down in the water, her arm twitching. Her colourful dress billows out behind her and as you watch, she starts to sink below the surface. She’s still alive, but not for long! 

Do you jump into the water to save her? Even if your outfit is ruined and you’re late for your meeting? 

Of course you do. There’s a child’s life at stake!

Every day, you have the option to save a life like this little girl’s. However, the children in danger aren’t in your local community. They’re in underprivileged countries, fighting to survive on less than $2 a day. If we all gave 1% of our salary to help them, poverty would be eradicated. So, why don’t we?

Humans are wired to protect those closest to us and to feel empathy for the known. That’s why we are more likely to donate to local charities, even if they are 10 or 100x less effective in making a difference than global ones. This is also  why everyone is so concerned about the deaths due to Coronavirus, whereas we are largely indifferent to the 9 million annual deaths due to malnutrition. The virus might hit us, our family, our community, whereas we’re unlikely to suffer from hunger ourselves. 

Once we are aware of this flaw in our thinking, we can start to change our attitude. With very little sacrifice, we could eradicate world hunger and lift everyone out of extreme poverty. Last year, I read Peter Singer’s free audiobook, The Life You Can Save and it changed my attitude to giving. I signed up to the pledge on his page, where you can enter your income and the algorithm tells you how much you should give. Unless you’re a very high earner, the suggested donation is 1-3% – hardly an amount that will break the bank. 

If you are a UK taxpayer, giving is even easier due to gift aid. Charities can claim back 25% on top of your donation. For example, if you make £50k, a 1% donation is £500 per year, but you only have to pay £400 and the charity can reclaim the extra £100 from the government. In this scenario, the total amount you’d need to spend is £33 per month. 

Where to donate

clasped-hands-comfort-hands-people-45842

“I don’t want to pay some middle manager’s salary.” 

“Only a fraction of my money actually goes to a good cause, so it’s not worth it.”

“I don’t want to spend ages making sure I pick a good charity.” 

These are statements I heard growing up. Charitable giving wasn’t on my radar and at most, I’d put a coin in the Salvation Army pot at Christmas. But so much has changed since then. It is easier than ever to find excellent charities, where 80+% of your money goes directly to those in need. There really are no excuses anymore. 

The Life You Can Save has a list of charities that do the most good per dollar spent. If you donate directly on their website, your money goes to whichever charity needs it the most at that moment. Alternatively, you can choose the one you like best and support it. 

I chose the second option. Since taking the pledge, I’ve donated more than 1% of my salary to the following two causes: 

  • Against Malaria Foundation: This charity distributes Malaria nets to communities affected by the disease. I’ve joined a fundraiser where we donate to AMF every month. My contribution usually ranges between £20-25 (plus government top-up).  
  • Fistula Foundation: This charity provides operations for women with obstetric fistula, a crippling condition that can occur during childbirth and ruin a woman’s life if not treated. I donate a number of times a year to top up my total charitable contribution. 

I’m also a member of the RSPB, which is a UK-based nature organisation. The natural world is one of my greatest passions and it’s important to me to support that. Plus, you get access to all of their amazing nature reserves for free. I can’t wait to take some trips there once it’s safe to go on holiday again. 

What is your relationship with giving? Do you give to charities? Which ones? 

The Double Finance Challenge: Final Update! 

If you’re new to the Double Finance Challenge, read about it here. Here’s how I did this week: 

Elastic Expenses

  • This week, it felt hard not to spend on unnecessary things. I was tempted to get that extra snack, get that cupcake at the bakery, buy those plants … But I resisted and am going to use my creative brain to find/ make them for free! Estimated savings: £5

Total Savings: £5

Excellent Earnings

  • Extra teaching income from that student I contacted (half the lesson cost attributed to the Challenge): £17
  • Amazon Mechanical Turk Earnings: £6

Total Earnings: £23

Here’s a table to summarise the results of the challenge: 

Excellent Earnings Elastic Expenses
Week 1 4.83 16.66
Week 2 1.65 17.50
Week 3 29 5
Week 4 23 5
TOTAL 58.48 44.17

I was able to save and earn over £100 extra by completing this challenge! As you can see, saving got harder the more I optimised my spending, but earning actually got easier as I gained more knowledge and experience. It will be interesting to see how this evolves in the next few months. 

The best find by far was Amazon Mturk. I’ve already earned over £20 in one month and the potential is great. However, payment is in Amazon vouchers, so I am a bit limited in what I buy. I will probably end up working for about 2 hours per month on this, allowing me to buy as many eBooks as I could ever read. 

Have you done anything to earn or save extra money lately? What worked, and what didn’t?

The Body Project: Glorious Glutes

“No, I don’t feel it, and my back hurts. Maybe I’m too old for this.”

Zabrina pursed her lips at me and shook her head. Her long black ponytail whipped from side to side. I took a deep breath.

“It’s okay, let’s try again. Lie on your stomach.” The 70-year-old lay down. Waves of disdain emanated from her. ‘She must think I’m a terrible teacher,’ I feared. It was only my third month of teaching and Zabrina was my most challenging client yet. She was very weak and frequently suffered from back pain because her glute muscles were completely switched off.

“Now, bend your knees and squeeze your heels together as hard as your can.” I demonstrated on the mat next to her. “Do you feel anything?”

Zabrina’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Oh. Yes. Yes, I do. What’s that?” She looked up, then squeezed her heels together again, watching her backside contract.

“Those are your glute muscles.” I breathed a sigh of relief and my shoulders unwound from around my ears. Success!T

Zabrina’s problem seemed baffling to me. How can a person live to 70 and not know how to engage their glute muscles? They’re crucial for all kinds of daily tasks like walking or climbing stairs. Let’s have a closer look at what they actually do and how to train them.

New to The Body Project? Read all about it here

The Glutes

You have three glutes, all of which help to lift the leg out to the side. They also have other functions:

The gluteus maximus is the heaviest muscle in your body and  it forms the visible part of your backside. Its main job is to extend your leg behind you, but it also rotates your leg outwards, helps to lift it to the side and to bring it back to the centre. It’s important for staying upright when standing, for running and for climbing stairs.

If you need more info or have trouble with any of those activities, PhysioPediais a great resource.

Glute max and med image

The gluteus medius and gluteus minimus lie below your large glute muscle. They mainly lift your leg out to the side (abduct it). They are crucial in movements such as walking and running because they prevent the opposite hip from dropping down. You can learn more about them here.

Glute minimus

If you’re like Zabrina and can’t feel your glute

If you have trouble feeling your backside contracting, try lying on your stomach, bending your knees and squeezing the heels together. This exercise becomes even more effective if you dig your fingers into the muscle as you squeeze. Often, touching a muscle can help to ‘wake it up’.

Glute Bridge

This is an easy way to train the gluteus maximus. Start on your back, knees bent, with your spine in a neutral position. Tilt your hips until your lower back is touching the mat. Exhale, keep rolling up one vertebra at a time until there’s a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Inhale, stay and really dig your heels into the ground. Exhale, roll back down. Make sure the shoulders stay relaxed throughout the exercise.

Advanced version: Lift your right leg up to table top position and then do the hip roll. Take care to keep the right hip as high as the left – check in a mirror if needed. Do 8-10 repetitions, then switch sides.

6 Image 2

Side Leg Lifts

This exercise targets all three glutes, but especially the medius.

Start lying on your side in neutral with your stomach engaged. To achieve a fully neutral position, try to create a gap between your waist and the mat and drop your shoulders down away from your ears. Exhale, lift your top leg up in the air, keeping it parallel. Inhale, return down. Keep the hips stable throughout. To make it more challenging, you can tie an exercise band around your legs. Do 10-20 repetitions.

6 Image 1

Do you want to burn fat? Check out my answer to a reader question about low-impact fat-burning exercises! There’s a whole menu of different types of exercise to choose from.

Also a quick reminder that selected The Body Project posts are now downloadable as free PDF’s on my Free Resources page.

SOURCES AND DISCLAIMER

Most of the information in this post comes from my years as a Pilates instructor. However, if you’re interested in reading more, here are some great books:

The Muscle Book. Paul Blakey, 1992.

Trail Guide to the Body A Hands-on Guide to Locating Muscles, Bones and More. Andrew Biel, Robin Dorn, 2014.

As always, participation in these workouts is at your own risk. A Chat with Kat is not responsible for bodily injuries incurred. If in doubt, please speak to your healthcare provider and/ or contact an exercise professional before proceeding.

Reader Question: Fat Burning Exercises for Arthritis

I was so pleased to receive the first Reader Question yesterday, so I decided to reply in a separate, bonus post. On Friday, we’re back to the next instalment of The Body Project – all about the glutes this week. 

Here’s the question:

Hi Kat,

Just wondering what simple fat burning exercises you can recommend for someone with mild Osteoarthritis, particularly in knees and hands.

LJ (from Discuss Life

This is a two-part question. Let’s look at fat-burning exercises and then discuss which ones are appropriate for someone with osteoarthritis. 

The go-to for people looking to lose weight is to start running. Doing some cardio feels good: you sweat, you get out of breath and you have a sense of achievement. However, cardio – or at least, cardio on its own – is not the best way to lose weight. You need to add strength training, as well. 

What happens when you exercise

physiotherapy-weight-training-dumbbell-exercise-balls-39671
Use both cardio and strength training to lose weight. 

The effects of cardio and weight/ body weight training are quite different. During a cardio session, you burn more calories. According to Healthline, you might burn 250-365 calories on a 30-minute run (assuming a weight of 160 lbs, 73kg), whereas you might only burn 130-220 calories when lifting weights. 

During a weightlifting or a body weight training session, you build up muscle. Since muscle uses up more energy than fat, this means your resting calorie burn rate will increase. Even when not exercising, your muscles keep using more energy. 

Additionally, lifting heavy weights or using your body weight for strength exercises creates tiny tears in your muscles, which need to be repaired. During this process, your muscles burn even more energy. This effect usually lasts for up to 48 hours, so you should work out at least three times per week. 

Personally, I used to do a 15-15-15 routine three times a week when I went to the gym:

  • 15 minutes of cardio
  • 15 minutes of strength training with weights and bodyweight exercises 
  • 15 minutes of stretching. 

These days, I work out at home and focus more on bodyweight training and stretching, but I look forward to adding some weights back in once my gym reopens. 

So, what’s appropriate for someone with osteoarthritis? 

Arthritis causes pain and inflammation in the joints and often targets the hands, shoulders, neck, hips and knees. There are certain exercises you might need to avoid or modify, such as: 

  • Running or jumping
  • Deep lunges
  • Deep squats 
  • Anything else with knees bent against weight/ gravity

To build up muscles and lose fat, try to exercise three times a week for at least 45 minutes or four times for at least 30 minutes. Here are some options for you to pick and choose from. Ideally, you combine one or two of the cardio workouts with some strength training. Depending on the degree and location of your osteoarthritis, some might be more appropriate than others. 

Cardio

Cycling: 

  • Interval training 1-2 times a week. For example, warm up at a moderate pace for 10 minutes, then alternate maximum effort (60 seconds) and rest (60 seconds). Repeat 5 times, then cool down for a few minutes. 
  • Cycling for a longer time (such as 30 minutes nonstop) at moderate speeds 2-3 times a week. It’s important not to overdo the high intensity workout, as you don’t want your body to be constantly stressed and inflamed. 

Bicycling have lots of extra info on their website. 

Swimming: 

If you have the option, swimming is a great workout that includes both cardio and strength. You can also vary your workout. Once a week, do each of the following: swim at a faster pace with rests in between laps and swim more slowly but consistently. 

Walking: 

As simple as it sounds, a brisk 45-minute walk really helps to burn fat, especially the dangerous visceral fat on your stomach, which can lead to heart disease. Remember to walk fast enough to raise your heart rate and long enough to start burning stored fat. 

pexels-photo-2072583
Walking: one of the best fat burning exercises if done consistently. 

Strength Training

TRX: 

This is a type of suspension training designed by a Navy Seal. As well as building strength, it will get your heart rate up. The TRX is a very versatile tool and the straps provide support where it’s needed. If you’ve never done this type of workout, you might need to attend a private session or class at your local gym. The instructor will choose exercises that are suitable for you. 

Weight Lifting: 

Doing weight training can ease your arthritis. The stronger the muscles around the affected joint are, the better they can support it. Dumbbells are a safe way to start, as they allow your two sides to move independently. 

  1. Choose weights that allow you to do 8-10 repetitions without increased joint pain. 
  2. Move the joints and warm up for at least 10 minutes before you start. 
  3. Don’t push yourself too hard at the start and move slowly through the full range of your joints as you complete the exercises. No jerky movements. 
  4. Choose any of these exercises, which should be safe.
    1.  Chest Press
    2. Bent-Over Rows
    3. Bicep Curl
    4. Tricep Extension

Creaky Joints have a lot of extra information. 

Body Weight Strengthening Exercises:

Here are some examples of great body weight exercises to help build up your muscles and burn fat. For a full range of strengthening exercises, attend a Pilates class (I offer them on Zoom) or check out The Body Project, where I explain the anatomy and exercises for each body part in more detail. 

  • Straight Leg Raise: Lying on your back with legs stretched out, lift one leg straight up. Ankle weights are optional. Great for: front of thigh. Start with 3 sets of 10.
  • Side Leg Raise: Lying on your side with legs stretched out, lift your leg straight up. Ankle weights are optional. Great for: bum and outer thighs. Start with 3 sets of 10. 
  • Plank: Start on all fours and then stretch both legs out to the back until your body is in one straight line and only your hands and toes are supporting you. Can also be done on your elbows if you have wrist pain. If you’ve never done a plank, watch this video for modifications and safety tips. Good for: stomach, shoulders, arms. 
  • The Watchdog: Start on hands and knees, then lift your right leg and left arm up without shifting your torso to one side. Return and switch to the other side. Repeat at least ten times. Check out this Body Project post for pictures and detailed instructions. 
pexels-photo-2294354
The plank: a great whole body exercise. 

In Summary 

Hopefully this gave you some ideas about how to exercise safely with mild arthritis. You can pick and choose some exercises that are safe and enjoyable for you. Remember: 

  • A combination of cardio and strength training workouts will help you to burn calories and increase muscle mass, which increases your resting burn rate. 
  • Try to exercise at least 3-4 times a week, alternating between higher and lower intensity workouts. 
  • Exercise gently, especially if you’re just starting out. Don’t push yourself too hard and give yourself some extra rest if your joints feel painful or swollen. 

Happy exercising! 

If you have any questions about fitness-related or finance-related topics, feel free to send me a message! I would be more than happy to help. 

 

As always, participation in these workouts is at your own risk. A Chat with Kat is not responsible for bodily injuries incurred. If in doubt, please speak to your healthcare provider and/ or contact an exercise professional before proceeding.

The Long Road to Financial Independence: Kat’s Journey

“I’m a quarter of the way through which is a difficult place to be. It feels like I’m rowing solo across the Atlantic. The planning is done, the course is set and all I gotta do is row.”

– The Accumulator, Monevator.com

Last week, I announced that I’m 20% to FI. As the excitement of the journey has worn off, I’m starting to feel a bit like the Monevator contributor The Accumulator in 2016. Now starts that long, tedious middle portion of my journey, where I just have to stay the course and keep rowing.

What keeps you motivated at times like that? For me, it’s twofold: seeing how far I’ve come already and envisioning the end goal. Let’s have a look at my journey so far and my plans for the future.

The Old Life: Start of a New Era

A 26-year-old female Pilates instructor striving for Financial Independence? An unlikely combination. How did that happen? Let’s look back at the very start of my career, right after I moved to London in the autumn of 2017.

I arrived with no job in sight, but lots of time and ambition. I couldn’t wait to start working and earning! By the end of Week 1, I had secured two interviews at Pilates studios, by Week 2, one of them had my first client lined up.

“You’re now self-employed. You have to send us an invoice,” the manager said.

I looked at him blankly. “Oh. Ok.”

He drew up a template for me and sent it to me to fill out. I was officially self-employed.

If given the choice, I would have taken a steady job over self-employment. It took me 6 months to build up to a full-time income and I was terrified the entire time. What if I never made  it? What if my clients all hated me and decided to leave? But full-time Pilates jobs are rare and so I had no other option than to stick it out.

With Month 6 came a massive boom in clients. It was after the New Year and everyone wanted to shape up. I ended that month with £400 more than my target earnings.

“What do I do now? All my dance classes and days out are paid for. What can I use all this extra money for?” I’d budgeted generously and couldn’t think of anything else to buy. So, I started researching savings options. I found many finance and FI experts and got more and more hooked over the next months. My budget tightened, my income sky-rocketed. By October of that year, I’d started investing.

That was in 2018 and my money immediately lost 10% of its value. Another time of terror – had I made a big mistake? However, having read enough Mr Money Mustache, I stuck it out and kept investing, and by January 2020, my portfolio was back up by 16%. I’m so glad I stayed self-employed. Although the income fluctuates more than in a steady job, there’s much more upside to it. Last tax year (April 19-April 20) I made twice as much as I was hoping for back when I first started.

So far, my conservative financial planning has helped me to cope with the Coronavirus crisis. I’m still working (virtually) and saving as much as I can with my reduced income. The combination of lower taxes on a lower income and lower expenses from not going out can hopefully help to keep me on track to retire early in 9 years’ time.

The FI Life: End of an Era

Let’s skip forward to 2029. Here I am, I’ve weathered the Coronavirus storm and a few others along the way and saved up 100% of my Lean FI number. For the rest of my life, I only have to work two days per month to cover my expenses. What now? How has my life changed?

  • Work Life Balance: Work for 3 days, life for 4 is the dream. Some weeks, I spend one day volunteering, one day hiking and two days at home working on my projects. Other weeks, I take a trip to Switzerland to visit my family. Occasionally, I do a working holiday with the National Trust.
  • Giving: Since I now work around 13 days a month but only need 2 days’ worth of money, this leaves plenty of room for giving. I’ve increased my charitable donations from 1% to 50% of earnings. Since I have so much time, perhaps I can even get involved with some of the organisations I donate to.
  • Holidays: I can take two entire months off each year to see my family in Switzerland: one summer month and one winter month. Sometimes, we take trips to the Italian seaside in the summer, other times we hang out at home.

I can’t wait to come back to this post in 10 years and see which parts of my predictions have come true and which haven’t.

What would you do if you had (almost) all of your expenses covered?

If you’re already FI, what’s the best part and what’s the biggest challenge?

The Double Finance Challenge: Update

New to The Double Finance Challenge? Read all about it here.

 

Elastic Expenses

This is getting harder and harder, as my budget is already quite barebones!

  • This week, I agreed to help a friend out with an organising task and in return, he will buy me new fuzzy socks. My old ones have holes and I’ve been meaning to buy some, so this will save me some money. Savings: ca. £5

Total Savings: £5

Excellent Earnings

All good things take time and this week, the groundwork I laid at the beginning of the challenge has started to pay off. It more than makes up for the slow week last week!

  • Ebay Selling: Sold more Anti Slip Socks on Ebay. (UK readers, get yours here!) Profit: £2
  • I’ve been working on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and have found some higher value tasks, so my earnings have increased. Earnings (to be claimed in Amazon vouchers): ca. £10
  • At the very start of the Double Finance Challenge, I contacted an old client to see whether his son wanted to re-start lessons. I never included it because they initially said no, but have since changed their minds. Profit: £34 per week – hopefully for many months! Let’s count half of that for the challenge: £17

Total Earnings: £29

Tell me about your earnings and savings this week. Have you done anything out of the ordinary?

The Wedding Workout

Today, let’s take a break from The Body Project to celebrate my first guest blog post on another site. I was invited to write up an exercise routine for Ivana at Wedding Crafts Academy and here’s the result:

Wedding Workout: Shaping Up for Your Big Day

Wedding Workout blog post

The post outlines a 10-15 minute workout routine to improve your posture and tone up your arms, which you can do 3-4 times a week. Although it’s designed for a bride-to-be, it’s a general level workout suitable for most people. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments!

A Note on Exercise Equipment

Since I started teaching Pilates virtually,  I’ve been thinking more about which pieces of equipment are essential for training at home. While some of my clients have a wonderful range of exercise tools, others have nothing at all. Turns out that a great workout is possible without any equipment, and this experience has certainly taught me to be more resourceful. However, over the long term, pure bodyweight workouts can be dull and repetitive. The simplest tool that enables an amazing range of exercises is the resistance band. You can do arm, core and leg exercises and even stretches with it. It’s my all-time favourite and I have 13 bands that I bring to my in-person sessions all over London.

Here’s a write-up of some great gym essentials by Slowly but Shirley:

9 of the Best Home Gym Purchases 

Do you agree with her? What are your favourite training tools?

Happy workouts! And don’t forget, if you need workout inspiration, check out my printable workout plans on my Free Resources page. I will be adding more routines as the Body Project grows.

Quarantine Connections: How I Keep My Faraway Friends Close

It’s celebration time!

I did my monthly accounting and was surprised to see that I’ve reached a milestone:

As of May, I’ve reached 20% of my Financial Independence target!

What does that mean? If you’re new to the concept, being financially independent means that all of your bills are covered by passive income for the rest of your life, so that you never have to work if you don’t want to.

My main reason for pursuing FI is stability: not having to worry about drops in income and being able to work for the fun of it. Once I reach my target, I could get by with working one day per week. Although I love my work, it’s a very easy career to go part-time in, so when I’m FI, I may extend my weekend by a day or two.

Now, onto the main topic of today’s post.

Connections in Quarantine Land

“You live such an isolated life all alone in your flat. You should go out and make more friends.”

A lovely client said this to me last year and it hit me hard. Is that what it looks like from the outside? To some, the combination of working long hours and living on my own seemed a recipe for a lonely life. But, being an introvert, I was never one for loud bars or nightclubs. Instead, I prefer daytime activities: A cup of hot chocolate with a friend, a social bootcamp session in the park or a group hike with the Ramblers. It takes me longer to build up a circle of friends that way, but the friendships I do make tend to last forever.

Amidst the tragedy of the pandemic, increased contact with faraway friends is the silver lining for many of us. All those strong friendships I’ve built over the years are paying off as people all over the world call, text and e-mail me regularly to check in.

The Walk and Talk

My favourite example of this is my best American friend. Every week since the quarantine started, we go for a ‘Walk and Talk’. I get up at 6am on Sunday, call him, and we go for a 2-hour walk. For me, it’s the perfect way to start my day off, whereas for him, it’s a relaxing end to his Saturday. This week, he asked me: “Are we going to keep doing this once the quarantine is over?”

“Of course,” was my spontaneous response. But it’s a good question. Before Corona, we hardly ever chatted on the phone. Will we continue to do so when normal life resumes? Knowing me and knowing him, the answer is definitely yes. This is one tradition that will carry on even after all of this is over, brightening both of our lives for many years to come.

But it’s not the only relationship that’s improved. Here are some other highlights:

  • My father used to call about once every two weeks. Now I get multiple calls a week!
  • A member in one of my FI groups has set up weekly Zoom calls on Saturday evenings. I love joining in and talking to like minded people for an hour. Many of the members live in other parts of the UK, so these are people I never would’ve met in real life.
  • Since the lockdown, I’ve grown closer to some of my clients. They text and send pictures of their quarantine days just to let me know they’re thinking of me. I’m convinced that once this is over, we’ll do a lot of fun things together that might not otherwise have happened.

Tell me about your relationships during the crisis. Have you developed any new rituals and traditions with your friends? Have you made any new friends?

The Double Finance Challenge: Update

New to the Double Finance Challenge? Learn about it here.

While I’m finding Elastic Expenses quite easy to achieve, I admit I’m struggling with Excellent Earnings. Do any of you have any idea of how to earn some extra money?

Elastic Expenses

  • I have metered accounts for my utilities, which I check at the end of every month. Wow, despite staying home all day every day, my bills are shockingly low this month! Total gas and electric spending: £15. I usually budget £40, so I must have really been careful this month. Let’s attribute half of that to the challenge: £12.50
  • I didn’t buy any convenience food that I might otherwise splurge on. All home cooking this week! Estimated savings: £5

Total savings this week: £17.50

Excellent Earnings

  • I applied to more teaching opportunities and one student has finally been referred to me! Unfortunately he’s in a different time zone and wants a lesson at 12am, but I’m sure other students with more reasonable requests will turn up.
  • I sold a Pilates sock on E-bay. I’ve been a seller for a while, but put this side hustle on hold for a while. It’s time to re-start it and sell some more products in my mini shop. Earnings: £0.65
  • I started working on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. The pay is low at the moment, but the more you do, the better the jobs you can get. Someone even made $100 000 on there! Earnings: ca. £1 

Total earnings this week: £1.65 – oh dear! Any tips to improve this, anyone?

Total gains from the Challenge this week: £19.15

A Note for Other Bloggers

Let’s work together! I’m available to do guest posts on your blog or you can be featured on mine.

I’m also looking to grow my weekly email list. If you have a blog or other social media presence, sign up for a chance to be included in my Friday roundup.

Find more info on both of these options on my Work With Me page.

This post is linked on:

My Random Musings